Sometimes He let’s the storm rage and calms His child.
My dad and I have gone running together since I was in 7th grade. I was clinically obese when I was in middle school and after a year of torment from my peers I was absolutely determined to lose the weight. So, I started running. Obviously, chugging nearly 200 pounds around on a 5 foot frame wasn’t easy, and it didn’t happen very fast. But my dad stuck my side, walked when I needed to walk, ran a little faster than I did -just fast enough to push me, but not discourage me- and talked with me the entire 2 mile trek. By my freshmen year of high school we’d upped our runs to 4-8 miles and were competing in 5 and 10k’s…where I actually WON a race. We ran all the time and would use the opportunities to talk..a lot. Sometimes we’d have heart to hearts, but more often than not it was just enough time to catch each other up (or if I was in trouble for something then I was just enough time for a lecture).
When I had my first surgery I felt mostly unaffected. But when the surgeon called back that night and said we needed to come back the very next day for an emergency surgery, things changed. I woke up from the second surgery and immediately realized I couldn’t swallow. I just kept choking. I had to adjust the way I held my head so that I could at least semi-regain that ability. I also fell into this weird depression. My grandmother offered to get me something to eat and I yelled at her. 1)because I probably wouldn’t be able to swallow it. And 2) the doctors had already put me on a strict diet to prepare me for the upcoming treatments. Regardless, it was totally out of character, and out of line. The news of me having cancer was barely 24 hours old. I had no idea what to expect, what to do, where to begin, or how to accept it.
Two days of back to back anesthesia can wreak havoc on a person. I had to stay in the hospital a little longer to help get my body back to normal. After a triumphant walk from my bed to the hall way-an astounding 10 steps that brought my parents,surgeon, nurse, and myself to tears-I was released from the hospital.I was ordered to rest for two weeks.
After the morphine wore off, I did not adjust well to the news of my diagnosis. I was mad. I was confused. I was scared. The only thing I wanted to do was run. I was one week shy of my potential release from resting, one week away from my follow-up visit with the surgeon, one week was all I had to wait. One week was too long. I begged my dad to let me go running. Of course, he said no. But being the only person in my family to ever have cancer, and even the only person my family personally knew who had cancer, they couldn’t relate to what I was going through, and they were a little more likely to be more lenient. They just wanted me to be happy. I cried and insisted he let me go, but that he could come with me, just in case.
We went running. Not a quarter-mile into it I fell from exhaustion. My dad broke my fall and held me while I sobbed. I felt like I didn’t even know who I was anymore. Running was supposed to be my release. Running was supposed to be OUR thing. Now cancer had taken even that.
We didn’t run together again until a couple of years later. It started off much like it did when I was in middle school. I was slow. I had to stop and walk. But my dad was still with me stride for stride. To be honest, I think he was (and still does) bracing himself for another fall, just in case.